Himalayan earthquake will threaten the country
Kathmandu facing increased earthquake risk
19 June 2007 (IRIN)
earthquake preparedness is low and the lives of thousands of residents
are at risk, says NSET
being located in one of the world's most seismically active zones, Kathmandu's
earthquake preparedness is low and the lives of tens of thousands of residents
are at risk, according to local experts.
next earthquake will be very disastrous if we fail to improve our preparedness,"
said expert Amod Dixit from the Nepal National Society for Earthquake Technology
is a local civic group which has been playing a key role in lobbying at
both national and international level to promote awareness of earthquake
risk and implement seismic risk reduction projects in Nepal.
is among 21 cities around the world in seismic zones and the risk for the
city is increasing every year, say experts. This is mainly due to declining
construction practices, uncontrolled urban development and a rapidly increasing
population, which is now nearly two million people.
urban growth rate is nearly 6.5 percent every year, with one of the highest
densities in the world. Nearly 6,000 concrete houses are built every year,
and mostly without proper engineering and seismic force considerations,
according to NSET.
massive awareness programme has become essential to convert Nepal into
a totally earthquake-safe community by 2020," said Ramesh Guragain, an
engineer involved in building earthquake-resistant buildings.
some awareness raising work is under way, due to cooperation between various
Nepalese agencies working on earthquake safety, more needs to be done,
is no stranger to earthquakes and major ones have occurred several times
in the last few hundred years in Kathmandu, as evident from historical
to the government's Earthquake Division at the Department of Mines and
Geology, the last big earthquake took place in 1934 when nearly 17,000
people died in a minute. The government reported that the quake's magnitude
was eight degrees on the Richter scale.
earthquake destroyed nearly one quarter of all homes and many historic
an earthquake of that magnitude were to happen within a decade, it would
cause significantly greater human casualties, physical damage and economic
loss than past earthquakes, according to NSET's Kathmandu Valley Earthquake
Risk Management Project.
are worried that such an earthquake could create a severe humanitarian
crisis - especially in a poor country like Nepal, where there are still
not enough hospitals, doctors and food resources, and where the infrastructure
and water supply situation is not up to coping with the consequences of
a large-scale disaster.
to NSET, inadequate preparedness could result in the deaths of nearly 40,000
people in the capital, leave over 900,000 homeless and destroy 60 percent
of the infrastructure.
needs to speed up the process of managing earthquake risk to ensure its
survival and protect its residents," said Dixit, who added that many of
these activities can be carried out even with limited resources.
lies on the site of a prehistoric lake filled with the soft sediments,
and this could affect the level of damage caused by an earthquake, according
© UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2006
This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
Regional Information Networks (IRIN), part of the UN Office for the Coordination
of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).